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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Milo Armadillo, written and illustrated by Jan Fearnley.Candlewick, Random House, 2009. $19.00 ages 3 and up

"When it was nearly Tallulah's birthday, her parents asked her what she would like for a present. "I want a pink fluffy rabbit," said Tallulah."

Pink fluffy rabbits should be easy to come by, wouldn't you think? Not so, it seems. There are grey rabbits, and brown rabbits, plnk elephants, and even a pink pelican. But, her parents just can't seem to get the combination right. Grandma to the rescue...she will knit a pink fluffy rabbit...which ends up looking not so much like a rabbit. Instead, when she opens her birthday box, Tallulah finds Milo Armadillo. She doesn't want to hurt her grandmother's feelings, so she professes to love Milo and seems content to spend her time with her new stuffed toy. They play together and share music, adventures and stories but a pink fluffy rabbit Milo is not. Her friends remark on Milo's differences and Milo hears what they are saying. Loving Tallulah and wanting her to be happy causes Milo to make a decision that will change his life. That decision also changes Tallulah's life...for the worse. After making quite a surprising discovery, Tallulah returns home happy.

I always look forward to Jan Fearnley's new books. She has a way of taking the ordinary and making it quite extraordinary. Children love her stories and respond to their subtle messages with quiet perception. Her illustrations for this book are detailed and done in mixed media, which give texture to the story in more than one way. I loved the knit pieces and the the use of fabric. They give the story a homey, soft feeling and are just right for this gentle, easy story of close friendship.

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